John Daly, the bad boy of professional golf, candidly shares his battle with weight, four ex-wives and their lawyers and addictions such as alcohol, gambling, food and sex in his autobiography "My Life in and out of the Rough: the Truth behind All That Bull **** You Think You Know about Me." Daly is one of the most popular and accomplished athletes in the world. He won two major opens before the age of 30. His memoir recounts his journey from Arkansas to the top of the golf world, and all his struggles in between.
Read an excerpt from the book below:
Back in the summer of 1991, my first year on the PGA Tour, I wasn't exactly what you'd call a household name in golf, unless you happened to spend a lot of time in my mother's household. Finally, after three and a half years of scraping by on the minitours and the South Africa Tour following my decision to drop out of college and turn pro in 1987, and after four trips to the PGA Tour's brutal Qualifying School, I'd earned my Tour card for the 1991 season. By the beginning of August, I still hadn't won anything, but I'd made about $160,000 up to that time, so I was feeling okay. I wasn't tearing it up or anything, but I'd made a bunch of cuts, and I'd finished fourth at the Honda back in March and third in the Chattanooga Classic in July. All year, word had been spreading a little about this redneck kid from Arkansas who could really let it fly but sometimes had to do some looking for it after it landed. So at tournaments I'd draw some fans around the tee to watch me hit driver. I never saw too many people along the fairways watching me hit my second shot, but that was okay. I knew I had some other clubs in my bag. Anyway, I'd wind up that year leading the PGA Tour in driving distance with just under 289 yards (288.9, if you're a stats freak). That would be good for about number 98 in 2005, and probably out of the top 100 in 2006. But back then, it was like 6 yards ahead of Greg Norman, who was number 2, and people were taking some notice.
Playin' the Tour and lovin' life -- man, I was 25 years old, and I had the world by the tail! As August rolled around, though, I hadn't made enough money to qualify for the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, which is just outside of Indianapolis. I was close enough to know that if I'd made a few more putts along the way, I'd be getting ready for my first practice round. But I was far enough back at ninth alternate to figure I had no chance in hell of getting in.
The week before, I'd played the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Michigan, just outside of Flint, and I'd stunk up the place, missing the cut by a bunch. So I went back to Memphis, where I'd just closed on my first home and spent $32,000 I couldn't afford on a new BMW for Bettye, my fiancée. I did pretty much what I always did when I was home. Practiced at Chickasaw Country Club. Hung out with whatever buddies were around. Probably ate lunch at McDonald's. Maybe played some in the afternoon. Went home. Had a few drinks, no doubt. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I never once thought I had a prayer of playing in the PGA Championship. A couple of foursomes of guys would have to withdraw for me to get in. There was no way that was going to happen, not in a major. But then a few guys dropped out for one reason or another, and every time one did, I'd get a call from Ken Anderson of the PGA of America to tell me that I'd moved up a notch. Nothing to get excited about. Then about five o'clock Wednesday afternoon, he called to say I was now third alternate. Still not likely I'd get in, he said, what with the tournament beginning in less than 24 hours.
Now, most Tour pros wouldn't walk across the street to watch somebody else play golf, but I decided to drive on up to Indianapolis to watch the PGA, to hang out, and -- okay, I'll admit it -- to have a few drinks with my buddy Fuzzy Zoeller. Fuzzy had won the Masters in 1979 and the U.S. Open in 1984. He was a serious player. A major player. And he was just maybe the most popular guy on the PGA Tour. And I was -- as I said -- not exactly a household name. Or put it another way: I was a nobody. But Fuzzy and I had met in 1989 at the Federal Express–St. Jude Classic in Memphis, where I lived. Being a local boy, I'd gotten a sponsor's exemption. Fuzzy spotted me and asked me to play a practice round with him. We've been close friends ever since.
But my best friend in those days was Jack Daniels. Had been since I was 19. Most of the time, I was drinking Jack like you wouldn't believe. A fifth a day, sometimes more. If I was in a bar, it would be Jack and Diet Coke. If I was home or in a hotel, I'd just drink it straight out of the bottle. Most people would be drunk for a month on what I'd had before dinner. I'd paid a couple of visits to emergency rooms in college to have my stomach pumped. But maybe the scariest time was in Falmouth, Maine, in 1990, the night before a Hogan Tour tournament began. I was partying with some guys, and I was having what had, over the summer, become my usual: triple Jack Daniels on the rocks, no water, three at a time. After a while the waitress said the bartender wouldn't serve me but one drink at a time. Fine. I'd order a drink, she'd bring it to me, and I'd drain the glass while she was standing there -- and ask for another. After a little of that, I had to be taken to a hospital because I'd passed out with my eyes open and the guys I was drinking with thought I'd had a stroke or something. The next day I shot two under.
But none of that stopped me. I was still young enough and dumb enough to believe I was bulletproof.
Back then, JD and JD were quite a pair -- practically inseparable.
Wednesday afternoon, my fiancée, Bettye, and I were on our way to Indiana. (Yeah, my clubs were in the trunk. That's my rule: never leave home without 'em.)
I didn't have a hotel booked, of course, but my agents, Bud Martin and John Mascatello, managed to get me a room that afternoon in a Residence Inn. I'd signed with John and Bud back in March after the Players Championship, and we used to laugh that the best move they made all that first year was booking me a cheap motel room.
I'd told the PGA office where I'd be staying, just in case, and when me and Bettye rolled into the Residence Inn at 2:30 in the morning and got to our room, the message light was blinking. It was Ken Anderson, the same guy who all week had been saying I wasn't going to get in. This time his message was different: "You're on the tee at 1:58 on Thursday."
Turns out the last three guys ahead of me on the alternates list had pulled out. Bill Sander was injured, Mark Lye didn't want to play without getting in a practice round, and Brad Bryant had an illness in the family. And then Nick Price with- drew because his wife was about to give birth to their first child.
So, thanks to Sue Price, I made it into the 1991 PGA Championship!
Happy as I was to get in, my expectations of doing much in the tournament weren't exactly what you'd call high. I hadn't been playing worth a damn, I hadn't played a practice round, and I was beat from being on the road for 10 hours. Didn't matter. I was just jumping out of my skin with excitement. I just wanted to go on out there and play the course.
Only one little problem: it was 2:30 in the morning.
Six hours later, after breakfast at McDonald's, I was raring to go. I had everything I needed -- tee time, clubs, golf shoes, golf shirts, even a caddy, thanks also to Nick (and Sue) Price. When he found out on Wednesday morning that I was on the short list of guys still hoping for a miracle, Nick -- who's one of the great guys on the Tour -- called to wish me good luck. He asked if I'd consider using his caddy, Jeff (Squeeky) Medlen, if I did get in. Would I consider it? Squeeky was only one of the top loopers on the Tour at the time and a terrific guy to boot. You bet I'd consider it.
Where's the first tee?
Squeeky and I hit it off right from the start. I'd never even seen Crooked Stick, but he knew it because he'd walked it in practice rounds with Nick earlier in the week. At 7,289 yards, Crooked Stick was the longest course ever to host a major, and my only strategy was to go out there and kill the fucking thing. Squeeky was down with that: not once did he advise me to play defensively or conservatively. Squeeky was a damn good caddy -- so experienced, so focused. It was amazing how fast he got to know my game. He could club me right away, like we'd been working together for years. That's not easy. At the pro level, there are a lot of gradations. One guy's 8-iron is another guy's 7. One guy fades everything, another guy draws it. Low trajectory, high trajectory. And so on. That doesn't matter on your average Saturday morning, when most guys don't have caddies anyway. But for pros, it matters. A lot.
Right from the first tee, Squeeky saw how good I was hitting driver, and he didn't want any negative stuff -- no backing down and playing safe and hitting the 3-wood -- so he'd hand me the driver, and in that voice of his that got him his nickname, he'd say the same thing: "Kill it, John. Just kill it."
So that's what I did.
The first round, I shot 69 -- three under -- which left me only two shots off the lead. Needless to say, I was pretty damned satisfied with that. Thinking back on it, the whole day was pretty cool: from ninth alternate to one of the leaders after the first round.
Thing is, though, I didn't know how near the top I was until the next day. Thursday afternoon was when that big storm blew through and the lightning killed a fan. PGA officials suspended play for a while at about 2:15, so our group didn't finish our first round. The next day they sent us out early to finish the last three holes on the back nine. That's why nobody knew about my 69 -- because it didn't get posted until Friday morning. No appearance at the media center, no having to face a bunch of cameras and a bunch of guys asking questions. Looking back, that was undoubtedly a good thing.
Thursday night, after grabbing dinner at McDonald's, Bettye and I went back to our motel room and hung out. Bettye played sports -- she was a strong tennis player -- so she understood competitiveness and had a good idea of what the day had meant to me. Me, I was just flat-out tired, as tired as I've ever been in my life.
But it was a good tired.
That first round, me and my playing partners, Bob Lohr and Billy Andrade, didn't have any kind of gallery following us from hole to hole. Mostly, the only people who saw us were folks just standing along the ropes, watching for big-name players as the groups came through. And anybody who did stay with our group had to be following Bob or Billy. Nobody was following me. Why would they? At least not at first. Friday, though, when I shot 67 and got to eight under, it was a whole new ball game. I was leading the tournament! The PGA Championship! Me, John Patrick Daly, Tour rookie from Arkansas, I was the leader in the clubhouse midway through a major!
But you know what, because I hadn't finished my round on Thursday, I hadn't had all night to think about what going low in a major meant. I just went from finishing my first round on Friday to eating lunch to starting my second round, with not a lot of time to get all nervous about what was happening. It's not hardly a big secret that one of the keys to my 69-67 start was my length. The first par 5 at Crooked Stick, number five, was the longest par 5 we played on the Tour that year. Still would be, I think, if we played it all the time -- 600 yards. Well, in the second round I hit driver, 1-iron to the middle of the green, and there I was, putting for eagle. Lohr and Andrade were looking at each other like, "No way he's on this green in two. No fucking way."
I guess I might have been a little surprised myself. I figured I'd get close, maybe up and down for birdie, but getting on in two and putting for eagle got me a little pumped. I two-putted for birdie. I'll take two-putt birdies any time.
Toward the end of Friday's round, some fan stuck his hand out as we walked from the green to the next tee box, and without thinking about it one way or another, I slapped him a high five. No big deal. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. But it caught on. Next thing you know, I'm high-fiving every hand I see. Now, Tour golfers aren't known for doing that sort of thing. Maybe they're afraid they might hurt their hands or something. I don't know exactly why I started, but once I did, I never stopped.
After the round, a couple of PGA officials grabbed me and took me to the media center. That was kinda cool. I'd been in the media center at Honda, but there was over a hundred people at Crooked Stick, all in the biggest tent I'd ever seen. Somebody asked me if I wanted something to drink. I thought about a beer, but I didn't know how that would go down, so I asked for a Diet Coke. I don't remember much about my first time in front of the media that week. You always start with birdies and bogeys -- that is, you go through hole by hole; you tell the reporters what you hit, why you missed this putt, that sort of thing. That's the standard routine, before they start asking questions about what you thought or what you felt or what you thought you felt. Golf reporters never see most of a golf tournament, at least not live. They only see what's playing on the TV feed in the media room. Some go out on the course, usually on Saturday, but even then they can only follow a couple of guys at a time. And there's 144 of us out there the first two days. So we have to tell them how we played, otherwise they wouldn't know. And nobody had any idea who I was, or what my game was like, so after they were finished with birdies and bogeys, there wasn't much anybody could ask except, "How'd it feel out there, John?" and "What do you think about the course?" and "How do you think you'll do tomorrow?" How did I think I'd do tomorrow? Shit, I was still thinking about today. Afterwards, my inner circle of buddies rallied around me and cheered me on. My best friend at the time, Donnie Crabtree, was there along with Rick Ross, who was sort of my coach. A few other guys from home, too. Mom and Dad watched it on TV at home. Fuzzy, the only Tour guy I knew well enough yet to call a friend, had missed the cut and hit the road, so I didn't hear from him until Saturday morning, when he called and told me to "go get 'em, keep on kickin' ass." By the weekend, of course, I wasn't the mystery guest anymore. I have the tapes from CBS of that tournament, and I can't remember seeing any of my shots on Thursday. On Friday, I played early, so they weren't on the air yet. But by Saturday, things were nuts. The newspapers had been full of stories about me, and the galleries had caught on. I was paired with Bruce Lietzke on Saturday; we were the last twosome to tee off. In the clubhouse after the round, Bruce had said to me, "I want to beat you, but if you keep on playing like this, nobody's going to beat you this week." Bruce is definitely a good guy. On every hole now, I was high-fiving people, and after all that had been in the newspapers and on TV, the galleries were going wild. I mean, the crowds were yelling and screaming and hollering, "Kill it, Big John!" I guarantee you it was the first time I ever needed marshals and security guys to get from hole to hole. I was so happy and surprised and proud of all the people rooting for me, it started to feel like a big party, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger.
It all happened spontaneously. People were rooting like hell for me. I could hear it, I could feel it, and I guess I figured I would give them back something besides golf. If I went to Crooked Stick and just hit the ball and didn't show them any love, maybe they wouldn't have taken to me like they did. Anyway, it was fun.
After only two days, I felt like I was their guy.
The craziest thing about the whole weekend, in a way, was getting invited by Mr. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, to be his guest at their exhibition game on Saturday night. I didn't know this at the time, of course, but Mr. Irsay was a huge golf nut, and he'd seen the way the people in the gallery were carrying on, and so he had Mr. Michael Browning, the president of Crooked Stick, ask me if, after I got through with the media on Saturday, I'd come on out to the game. I said sure.
See, I love football. Love it. I don't care who's playing. I don't care if it's preseason or whatever. Just to see guys out there hitting each other, it's awesome. Hey, it's football -- let's go! It was a blast. I met all the guys in the locker room before the game -- Eric Dickerson, Jeff George, guys I'd seen on TV. Got jerseys. Got autographs. Gave a few. Then, during the game, I sat in Mr. Irsay's box and signed programs for the Colts fans in the grandstand. It was great.
Next thing I know, I'm in the middle of the field at halftime, me and Bettye, with 48,000 people screaming their heads off after they introduced me. I mean, they were going nuts. I'd never seen a city embrace somebody like that, especially somebody they'd never even heard of three days earlier. All of a sudden, after what -- 72 hours? -- I felt like I was the mayor of Indianapolis.
And I almost became something even better: a kicker in the NFL.
Before the game, just kidding around, I told Coach Ron Meyer and the Colts people that I'd been a field goal kicker in high school, so if they needed someone, let me know. Well, they told Mr. Irsay, and he jumped all over the idea. Right away, he was looking into having me suit up the following week and kick an actual extra point during the game. But because of the insurance issues -- I could have been hurt or maybe hurt someone else -- it didn't happen. Wouldn't that have been something? Who knows, maybe I missed my calling. (I got another chance. That fall, the L.A. Rams -- they were still there then -- were playing the 49ers on Monday Night Football. Some PR guy hooked me up with the Monday Night Football crew, and that afternoon I hit a 3-iron out of Anaheim Stadium, where they were playing that night. Then I kicked a 35-yard field goal, barefooted. Don Meredith held for me. And John Madden put me on that year's All-Madden team. I got an All-Madden card! I was the field goal kicker on the 1992 All-Madden team!) After the Colts game, me and Bettye went on back to the motel. I still had a lot of nervous energy, but I didn't have any trouble going to sleep, and I slept through the night. You know, looking back, I wonder why I wasn't more wired up or nervous or something, but I was just having too much damn fun.
No doubt a lot of people figured I was going to piss it all away on Sunday. Can't blame 'em. I was a nobody. I wasn't even supposed to be there. It was just a matter of time before my nerves would get to me and I'd start spraying golf balls all over Indiana.
But I had something going for me that made me feel like, yes sir, I did belong. On Sunday morning, when I got to the clubhouse, I found a note in my locker.
Now, golfers aren't like baseball players, who'll typically spend a couple of hours in the clubhouse. Most Tour golfers go to a locker room to change their shoes, stash any gear they've brought with them, and check to make sure their flies are zipped. Really, that's about it. I mean, guys don't usually shower there, or get medical treatments, or sit around in whirlpools.
That's about it, as I said, except for one thing: checking their messages.
Things have changed a lot since cell phones and BlackBerrys came along, but 15 years ago, if an equipment rep or some friend of a friend looking to score tickets to the tournament or even your agent wanted to be sure to make a connection, the locker room attendant would leave a message in your locker. And if you're on the leaderboard on Sunday, you're going to find a lot of messages, even if you're some redneck rookie from Arkansas.
So there I was on the most important day of my life, trying to pretend I didn't have butterflies fighting to get out of my gut, reading a bunch of scraps of paper from all sorts of people who all of a sudden wanted to be my best friend, when I came on one, neatly folded, with the following handwritten line: "Go get 'em, John."
Just those four words: "Go get 'em, John."
Nice note, but no big deal.
Except that it was signed "Jack Nicklaus.
Holy shit! The guy I admired more than anybody else in golf, my childhood hero, Jack Nicklaus was giving me a pat on the back and telling me to go out there and get 'em. No way that didn't help me do what I did over the next 18 holes. Even so, I still wasn't thinking consciously about winning or losing the tournament. Sounds funny, I guess, but I was just thinking about going out there and playing golf. Dr. Bob Rotella, a real smart man I got to know some years later, says that's called "staying in the moment," and it's what you're supposed to do. Get ahead of yourself, start thinking ahead to where you want to end up, and you're more likely to screw up and never get there.
Anyway, I wasn't scared. I had butterflies. But I wasn't scared. At least that's what I kept telling myself.
You wouldn't have thought it, though, by the way I hit my first shot of the day on Sunday. I hooked my driver into the trees, your classic nervous, anxious, what-the-fuck-am-I-doing- here overswing. But then I came back and made bogey, a helluva bogey, considering where I hit the drive. Made birdie on two, so I was par for the day and three strokes up on the field after two holes -- man, I was in pretty good shape. I was paired with Kenny Knox. Kenny wasn't particularly long, and I was outdriving him by 50 yards on some holes. That went over well with the fans, of course. On number eight, a 438-yard par 4, I hit driver and L-wedge, which tells you how far my tee balls were going.
I owned the par 5s that week: one eagle, 10 birdies, five pars, which comes to 12 under. On the other 56 holes, I was even par. I won the PGA Championship on the par 5s. My second birdie on Sunday came on the fifth hole, that humongous par 5 I told you about. Then, just when I started getting a little nervous about where I was and what I was doing, I ran off a solid string of seven straight pars. On the 13th, a par 3, I made a 25-footer from the fringe for birdie, and all of a sudden I've got my right fist going, waving it around big-time.
The 14th hole, a big old dogleg left, was a really long par 4, maybe the longest on the Tour, at 468 yards, but I was hitting L-wedge to it every day, and I had a birdie in the second round and three pars there to show for it.
At 17, a 230-yard par 3, I hit a bad 4-iron left into the bunker. The pin was cut about 5 feet from the left edge, so I should have played it to the fat part of the green. Anyway, I hit a sand wedge out about 20 feet, knocked it past about 7 feet, missed coming back, and finally tapped in for double bogey -- and still had a three-stroke lead. You got to feel pretty good about your chances when you double-bogey the 71st hole in a golf tournament and still have a three-stroke lead.
Play it safe on the final hole and protect my lead?
No way: you gotta let the big dog eat.
Squeeky didn't hesitate. On the 18th tee, he handed me my driver without blinking an eye. The final hole was a par 4 with water down the right side. I figured, even if I hit it in the water, I could still make bogey and win. Well, I killed my driver smack down the middle and then hit an 8-iron from about 160 yards to inside 30 feet. That's when I began my "victory tour," walking tight up the middle of the 18th fairway, knowing I'd done it. There were something like 35,000 people at Crooked Stick that day, and I felt like every one of them was on my side. For some reason, as I started walking, I began waving my right arm around, just like Arsenio Hall. The hairs on my arms were sticking up, but I still rolled in a 4-foot par putt for a 276 total, three shots better than Bruce Lietzke.
The last guy to get into the PGA Championship finished first.
When I look at the tapes of the 1991 PGA, I see the same guy I am today, only a bunch of pounds lighter. I mean, my swing was in perfect balance. I wasn't hanging back. I wasn't deaccelerating through the ball. Hips turned good. I was making a full, strong follow-through on everything. Yeah, I'm more mature now. I don't push as hard as I did then. I don't get overanxious. And I don't let the dark side affect me the way I did back then -- and later. But the swing and the game, they're the same.
I played fearless golf that weekend. I just went out there and hit the ball. I just did my thing. My short game was great: I hit my approaches close, and I made a bunch of putts from inside 10 feet. Most of the time the ball went where I wanted it to. When it didn't, I didn't get scared. I just went and found it and hit it again. I was fearless. That was the key.
(That, and Nick Price's wife going into labor.)
The very best thing about that weekend -- aside from winning, of course -- was the way the fans rallied around me. And they've been with me ever since. That Saturday night at the Colts game? It was like that at St. Andrews four years later when I won the British. It's like that in Houston, in San Diego, in Augusta, pretty much wherever I play -- no matter how I'm playing at the time, no matter how much I've screwed up along the way.
And it all began 15 years ago in Indianapolis.
It all happened so fast. The whole week was a blur. I've thought about it a lot. I've answered a million questions about it. But except for the Colts game, it was just like every other tournament week: wake up, breakfast from McDonald's, play golf, dinner from McDonald's, go to bed, then wake up and do it all again. You'd figure with all that was going on, and with me seeing my name on the top of the leaderboard at a major, that I'd have trouble sleeping or something. Uh-uh. I slept like a baby every night.
The only difference was that on Sunday night when I went to sleep, I was the 1991 PGA champion.